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New Survey Warns Neighbours WiFi Could Slow Your Network

Tuesday, June 21st, 2022 (9:00 am) - Score 5,304
Wi-Fi icon, sign. Vector illustration. Flat design. Connect green sign. Blue background.

A new Censuswide survey of 2,001 UK people (aged 16+) that have broadband, which was commissioned by UK ISP Zen Internet, has found 99% of respondents were unaware of all the factors that could be slowing down their WiFi and 76% didn’t know their neighbour’s broadband router may be hindering their own connection.

Furthermore, some 90% didn’t know their “refrigerator could also be drowning out WiFi connections due to interfering radio signals if positioned too close to the router“. But we have actually done some anecdotal testing of this with our Samsung fridge and found it hard to identify an issue – other than the much more obvious disruption caused by the large metal body of the fridge itself.

Almost a quarter (23%) of those surveyed also “think devices must be placed next to a router to get the best connection“, which seems to be something that Zen pass off as a myth, yet it’s not incorrect. Zen counters that “modern-day routers are able to provide sufficient connectivity for devices spread across a house,” which is true. But that is not the same as seeking the “best connection” (i.e. fastest speeds), where performance falls the further away you go (i.e. the low power signal weakens through interference and running into more walls, objects etc.).

Summary of More Survey Findings

➤ 14% believe turning their router off at night can enhance its effectiveness the next day, with some perhaps turning it off for energy-saving reasons amidst the ongoing cost of living crisis.

➤ 29% believe “hot spotting off a mobile device” will give a better connection than connecting to WiFi when a reliable broadband connection should be a superior option.

➤ 54% don’t realise that elevating your router can enhance your connection. Whilst positioning your router as centrally as possible in the house will help improve the range across the household, where this is not possible, positioning your router in a high location will help the signal spread out further.

➤ 30% have been forced to connect to 4G or 5G networks when their WiFi network hasn’t been up to speed.

➤ 23% have invested in a WiFi extender, which generally improves the connection (we assume they also mean Mesh repeaters).

➤ 16% have avoided switching broadband ISP due to fears of internet downtime caused by switching.

On the question of whether or not you should turn your router off at night, the answer would definitely be NO for those with a copper based broadband line (ADSL, FTTC / VDSL2 or G.fast) – doing so could cause the Dynamic Line Management (DLM) to assume your line is unstable and drop the speed (note: this is not an issue on “full fibreFTTP lines).

However, we have found that some routers and their storage / log files can get a bit clogged-up over time or the configuration files may become corrupted, which means they could still benefit from a very rare power cycle (reset) to clear the memory. But this often only improves the device performance and may not aid your broadband or wireless network speeds etc.

On the issue of “hot spotting off a mobile device“, we were a bit confused about this one because it’s expressed as a belief in gaining a better connection than connecting to WiFi, except creating a Hotspot on a Smartphone also creates a WiFi network, albeit one fuelled by your Mobile Broadband (4G or 5G) connection instead of the fixed line.

Zen states that “broadband is the most reliable, high-speed connection available to households, and the best option to support with tasks such as streaming, gaming and video conference calls,” but this neglects the fact that some people live in areas where the local mobile network is actually faster than fixed lines (myself included, until recently). Suffice to say, context and location matter.

Finally, on the key question of whether your neighbour’s WiFi can interfere with your own signal, this is true. Modern routers, particularly those based on the WiFi 5 (802.11ac) and WiFi 6 / 6E (802.11ax) standards, are much better at automatically managing congested environments, but there are limits. Where possible, it’s better to connect via the shorter-range 5GHz or 6GHz bands (most of the interference will be on 2.4GHz as it travels further).

We’d recommend our ‘Top Tips for Boosting Your Home Wi-Fi Wireless Network Speeds‘ article for more help.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
18 Responses
  1. Charles Smith says:

    We have an 1805 stone built house/ex shop. In places the walls are 2-3 feet thick. The shop part of the building runs along the side of the busy A6 road. Being a Grade II listed building we have to be careful about any alterations so UTP cable has to be largely “temporary” and not fitted throughout the building. We found the ISP WiFi Routers couldn’t reach everywhere and also the mobile WiFi signal of passing vehicles interfered with the WiFi. We tried powerline adaptors, these improved things a bitbut were not wholly reliable. The solution we found was good quality commercial Wireless Access Points (4 of) with combined meshing/direct UTP (PoE) strategically placed around the buiding. To avoid conflicts we turn off the WiFi on the ISP router.

    1. Sam P says:

      Conflicts only occur when a data stream is being passed through both WiFi networks. Simply having the ISP WiFi switched on won’t harm your network quality if nobody is using it.

      Thank being said, if it’s not being used then it’s good practice to switch it off.

      I hope that makes sense!

  2. Phil says:

    Welcome back Zen PR department, sorry, useful survey department telling us things never ever knew before, how we missed you.

  3. John says:

    And they needed a survey for that. Of course someone earned easy money on this.

  4. Mike says:

    I wouldn’t use wifi for anything other than portable devices, ethernet/powerline being the go to.

    1. WiFi Man says:

      WiFi 6 says Hi

    2. Sam P says:

      This was so me in 2007. WiFi sucked back then.

    3. Ad47uk says:

      I don’t disagree, everything I have that can be connected via Ethernet is, including my printer, but it is a pain to do it in some houses and maybe not everyone wants an Ethernet cable trailing down the side of the stairs, it doesn’t bother me.

      I went to look at a house with a friend around 4 years ago, and it had wired network all the way though the house with a rack mount on the wall where the router and other gubbins would sit. It was a lovely place, but sadly the price started to climb before she went for it as the owners realised that it was worth more than they had it for sale at due to it being by a duck poind. I expect the wired Ethernet done something as well.

      If this was my own house and had the money then yes i would have wired network installed in the walls.

      Wi-fi is not too bad here to be honest, but I find the older 2.4Ghz signals are better, then again most smart home devices use 2.4 anyway.

    4. An Engineer says:

      You use powerline in preference to wireless?

      Must be over quite a distance or have some insanely thick walls in between.

      I have one PLA link. It’s to the garage. I actually use it to, among other things, feed a wireless access point out there.

    5. Ad47uk says:

      @An Engineer, a lot of the older houses have some very thick walls. Mine is ok, it is brick built and is only around 60 years old or so.

      i used powerlines, but never again, useless things. I still have them, but they have been boxed up for a couple of years.

    6. An Engineer says:

      I live in a new build but one built properly with copious amounts of brick and concrete, Ad.

      I use a combination of wireless and fibre optics. The fibre cables are so small and inconspicuous a pair of them are glued to the ceiling and wall in the hall and no-one notices. 🙂

      Expensive but great solution.

  5. Michael says:

    Switching off WiFi hubs at night only causes problems. I’ve worked for two ISPs & the people who did that had the most connectivity problems.

  6. Winston Smith says:

    Fridge interference sounds unikley unless it’s internet connected.

    Microwave oven RF leakage can definitely cause problems with 2.4GHz WiFi though.

    1. Sam P says:

      My microwave (which is in the kitchen) will cause my Bluetooth speakers (in the living room) to cut in and out when it’s being used!

    2. Carl Farrington says:

      Aye. If you’ve ever used a 2.4GHz “TV/video sender” for connecting the downstairs sky/virgin box with telly upstairs, you can literally see and hear the microwave oven roaring through the screen!

    3. Ad47uk says:

      Some fridges can cause problems, certainly some of the older ones. I remember around 4-5 years ago I helped someone try to find out what was wrong with their Wi-fi as it was awful, the router was on top of the fridge as soon as we took it off the top, it was fine. so we stuck it on a cupboard across the room.
      Microwaves can as well, but mine don’t as my Echo dot is next to it, and it still works even with the oven working, which reminds me i must get a new oven.

  7. Gregowski says:

    That’s why I have my channels set manually and in 5g range I’m on the higher frequencies which no router in default setting will use.

    And when I had 1gig connection I was happily getting that on WiFi in nearly entire flat.

  8. Bib says:

    I would rather these so-called surveys were all just ignored.

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